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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Maple Creme Cookies

Beautiful red and orange frosting highlight this delicious
cookie that hides maple creme inside!
It's September here in the desert and the temperatures have managed to dip into the low to mid 90's! Yes, this is what Autumn feels like in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

Of course, I'm still in tune with the seasons of the Southeast. With September and October comes a longing for brightly colored trees and cool days and cooler nights. When I was young my grandmother had a beautiful maple tree in her front yard. Each October I would eagerly await its transformation from green to flaming red and orange. I thought it was the most beautiful tree in the world. To this day the maple tree remains the ultimate symbol of Fall for me.

As with most families in our area, Fall also meant a pilgrimage to "the mountains." Like "the beach" that was shorthand for one destination - Western North Carolina. The trip would always involve mountain apples and one of my favorite things - maple sugar candy. That sickeningly sweet concoction remains a favorite treat. Each year, now that I'm far from those old mountains, I eagerly await the arrival of those little boxes of maple goodness at World Market.

Another Fall treat has been the maple sandwich cookie. These are usually available at grocery stores late in the season, but they're a joy to make at home. In fact, you can go the long route with real maple syrup which is super yummy or you can take a shortcut with maple flavoring.

'Maple Tree' photo (c) 2010, William Warby - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I had intended to go the long route on my latest batch but her in the west maple syrup prices at about $7-$10 a bottle. That's a little steep for a cookie filling (figuring you'd need about two or more bottles to cook down into the maple creme.) So, I opted for the shortcut method which is faster and cheaper. It's really easy:

Shortcut Maple Creme

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs. maple flavoring
1-2 tbs. milk

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir together until you get a nice smooth filling that can be easily spread on cookies.

It's that simple. The maple creme is a bit more involved and the recipe is included below. I also decided to frost my cookies with red and orange frosting which gives them a beautiful autumnal feel. These are super delicious and addictive.

I found with my cookie cutter that I needed to flip over half the cookies to make the tops and bottoms match. If you have a more symmetrical cutter you won't need to puzzle out those tops and bottoms! If you have an asymmetrical cutter just remember that even if you forget you can still make the cookies, the bottoms will just look like regular cookie bottoms though. (Does that even make sense?) 

Eagle eyed readers will notice the cookie recipe closely resembles that for the Cinnamon Marble Cookies. Indeed, it is adapted from that recipe as the base cookie makes a terrific sandwich cookie for all types of fillings - just adjust your spices to compliment your filling!


Maple Creme Cookies

Maple leaf shaped cookies with delicious maple creme filling!

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Yield: 20-24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Recipe Maple Creme
  • 1 Recipe Red Frosting
  • 1 Recipe Orange Frosting
Cooking Directions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Beat in egg and vanilla just until combined. Beat in flour in 1/4 cup increments just until combined. Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for at least one hour or until easy to handle.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a Maple Leaf shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or just until bottoms begin to brown. Cool cookies on wire rack.
  4. Frost half of the cookies with Red and Orange Frosting. Using the red frosting coat the cookie top entirely with a paint brush. With a second paintbrush, brush the orange frosting over the red, swirling the colors together. Allow the frosting to set completely.
  5. Once the frosting has set, take the unfrosted cookies and spoon a little of the maple creme and spread with a small icing spatula. Top the cookie with one of the frosted cookies, pressing down lightly to spread the maple creme completely.


Real Maple Creme

Ingredients
  • 3 cups Grade A or B Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Fill a large bowl about 1/4 full with ice. Place a medium saucepan on the ice and fill in around the edges with more ice until it reaches at least the halfway point of the saucepan. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan combine all ingredients and cook over medium to medium-high heat without stirring until temperature registers 235° on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to waiting saucepan in ice. When temperature reaches 125°, transfer to bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat at medium to high speed until mixture becomes creamy and thick. Transfer to a clean covered jar if not using immediately and store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.


Orange or Red Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbs. Milk
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla
  • Red or Orange Food Coloring
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix first three ingredients together in a small bowl until the mixture resembles a thick paint. Add the desired food coloring and mix well until the color is uniform and the shade you wish.Repeat with second color in a separate bowl.
  2. Paint the frosting on cookies using a paintbrush or small pastry brush.
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